While  Dan  lives  paycheck  to  paycheck,  working  the  door  at  a  San  Francisco dive  bar  and  promoting  unpopular  poetry  slams,  he  has  been  stuck  in  place since  the  day  he  was  diagnosed  with  HIV.  Now  positive  for  22  years,  Dan’s problems  aren’t  physical—his  psyche  is  more  of  an  issue  than  his  T-cells.  He longs for companionship, but dreading the inevitable “Hi I’m positive” talk, he has successfully avoided the dating scene.

Not  that  he’s  the  only  one  with  relationship problems.   Dan’s   nightclub-owning   boss, Bob,  is  a  man  trying  to  adjust  to  the single life   after   his   wife   tossed   him   out   of   the house. And  Dan’s  best  friend,  Paula,  tired  of one  disappointing  date after  another  finds life is easier with a stuffed animal.

When  the  state  suspends  his  medical  coverage,  and  his  expensive  combo  of multi-colored,   multi-tasking  AIDS   drugs   are   cut   off,   the   daily   grind   and constantly  living  10  pills  away  from  death  every  day  gets  just  a  little  more nerve-wracking.

While PUSHING DEAD offers an insider’s view of one man’s life with AIDS, it’s also  a  universal  story  of  people  finding  ways  to  love  first  then  live  with  the relationship  later.  From  the  offbeat  to  the  painfully  banal,  the  struggles  of coping  with  mortality  are  explored  in  a  film  about  being  strengthened  by  a challenge, not weakened by a disease.




With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, I started writing the AIDS film that I was craving—a film without IV bags and skin lesions. I wanted to make a different kind of AIDS movie, a comedy—in which nobody dies.

I’ve been positive for most of my life, so many people assume this story is about me. Although it’s not autobiographical, I do have the inside scoop, and it’s hard to resist tossing in some of those personal HIV experiences. The most important experience I wanted to share was my relationship with AIDS. At some point I started thinking of this thing between AIDS and me as a marriage. It becomes a part of you, you make peace, you get hitched, and you push forward.

The healthcare system in the US has improved in recent years, but much like the lead character in PUSHING DEAD, huge numbers of low-income people across the country are still forced—at times—to pay thousands of dollars for their meds or go without. And with current threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the film is more topical than ever.

PUSHING DEAD is much more than an AIDS flick. It’s a picture about how we cope with the bad stuff, our need for support systems, and the hunt for a mate. When I was watching those AIDS films with characters dying, what I really wanted to see was a movie about real, funny people living and dealing with big problems—my wife left me, I have AIDS, I’m in love with a stuffed animal—so that’s what I wrote.

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